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Contemporary Fiction Drama

The show started with a close-up shot of the presenter.

‘Hi, I’m Ashlee Johnson. Thank you for watching our program- A chat with experts. Today we have Dr. Richard Prince as our guest in the studio.’

The third camera’s master shot feed with both the presenter and the guest appeared on the screen.

Ashlee turned her attention toward Dr. Prince and said, ‘Dr. Prince, thank you for accepting our invitation.’

The second camera’s feed with a close-up shot of Dr. Prince came on the screen. ‘Thank you for having me.’ Dr. Prince said and ended his sentence with a slight head bow.

The first camera’s feed brought the presenter on the screen again. And with a polite smile, she continued. ‘Dr. Richard Prince is a well-known anthropologist and historian, a researcher, and author of over twenty books. His recent book, Not Brainier Than a Chimp, just published earlier this year, became the nonfiction bestseller of the year, and so far has sold fifteen million copies. And it has already been translated to twenty-four different languages around the globe.’

The third camera’s master shot feed brought the presenter and the guest on the screen. Ashlee Johnson turned toward her guest and continued. ‘Doctor, would you briefly explain the theme of your book and tell us why it has become so popular?’

Dr. Prince cleared his chest and hesitantly answered, ‘in this book, I looked at human history and how we changed our environment and worldview through our social evolution, and how much these changes impacted both the environment and us. Now we are living in a man-made world dissimilar to the world our ancestors used to live in. For example, in the last hundred or more years, automobiles became an inseparable part of our world and our life. Doesn’t matter where you go, even in the remotest villages, we can find cars.’

Ashlee Johnson interrupted him and said, ‘I should warn you, doctor, that many of our loyal viewers don’t believe in the theory of evolution.’

Her comment caught him off guard, but he quickly managed his composure and responded, ‘I am sorry to hear that because evolution is scientifically proven. But in my book, I am not talking about our physical or biological evolution. I reviewed human cultural evolution, and by that, I referred to the changes that have occurred in our cultures and worldviews since our ancestors were living as hunter-gatherers.’ Dr. Prince responded.

‘I am happy to hear that. Otherwise, our viewers would bombard us with their discontent messages.’ She said with a fake smile on her face.

Richard didn’t know how to react to her inane comment. After a brief pause, he sarcastically responded, ‘I expected the viewers of this program are open to discussions.’

While keeping her Botox smile on to reduce the rising tension caused by his latest comment, Ashlee asked a different question. ‘Dr. Prince, I believe many of our viewers would like to know more about your name. As your surname is Prince, do you have royal blood, doctor?’

While smiling, he answered, ‘I wish I had. As far as I know, I’m not royalty. My wild guess is that when having the last name became customary, my ancestor, a few generations back, whoever he was, decided to choose the name of Prince. Maybe he thought choosing this surname will bring him and his family good luck and a fortune.’

‘Did it bring good luck to your ancestor? Or a fortune?’ Ashlee asked cheerfully.

‘Not as far as I know. Apparently, it changed nothing for him. In fact, it could bring misfortune to him if his action offended a member of the royal family. I don’t think royals would tolerate a commoner who called himself prince.’

‘Did it happen?’

‘The misfortune?’

‘Yes, did his action caused him, your ancestor, a problem?’ Ashlee asked.

‘No. I believe he was just lucky. I guess, at that age, commoners were invisible for men of power and wealth.’

‘Yes, that’s funny, isn’t it? Let’s back to the present time. About your recent book, why did you choose this unusual name of ‘Not Brainier Than a Chimp’?’

‘I….’

She abruptly interrupted him and added, ‘and, what message did you intend to give to an individual who holds your book in his hand for the very first time, for example, in a bookstore? Doctor.’

‘My book is a study on humans’ cultural evolution, or as the viewers might like it better, the study of the cultural changes during the time. It is arranged in chronological order, starting from roughly one hundred and fifty thousand years ago when we believe the first Homosapien walked on the earth. Then I followed our cultural changes through the time up to the present, the twenty-first century. The early humans were living in the wild, and their lifestyle wasn’t much different from the life of other primates like chimpanzees, our closest relative in the animal kingdom.’

‘Doctor, you aren’t going to talk about the theory of evolution, are you?’ Ashlee objected.

‘No, I am not. But, it seems you don’t believe in the theory of evolution. Am I right?’

‘Yes, as you mention it, it is just a theory and not base on facts.’ She responded.

‘I guess by theory, you mean hypothesis!’ Dr. Prince said.

‘Are they different?’ She argued.

‘Yes, they are different. When scientists face an unknown phenomenon, they make an educated guess of how or why that phenomenon occurs. At this stage, their assumption is called the hypothesis. Their hypothesis may be proven true or false by further testing and examination. When all tests and experiments prove and verify their hypothesis’s validity, it will change the name and become a theory. Therefore, theories rely on tested and verified data, and scientists accept a theory to be true until they find some data against it, which does not necessarily invalidate the theory. It can improve it.’ Dr. prince explained passionately.

‘Doctor, are you saying that evolution is true?’ She asked, while hardly could hide her disapproval.

Richard was disappointed with her ignorance. ‘It would be appropriate for such a program to select an informed person than a beauty contest queen.’ He mused.  Richard pushed his thoughts back and responded, ‘what I am saying is that there are many fossils and evidence to support the theory of evolution.’ He responded.

‘But according to the bible, the Lord created the world and all the living beings discretely.’ She responded.

‘We shouldn’t forget that the bible is not a scientific book.’ He uttered rather impatiently.

‘Doctor, I am asking again, is your book on the theory of evolution?’ She asked while still had her fake smile on.

 ‘As I mentioned before, my book is on human cultures and their changes through time and is not related to evolution theory. Here, I just compared the lifestyle of primitive humans to other primates’ lifestyle in the same environment, in the African  savannah.’ Richard answered.

‘Why African savannah and not, for example, here in Wyoming?’ She asked vainly.

Richard shocked by her uninformed question but controlled the urge of asking, ‘are you serious? Do you know anything about human evolution?’ But instead, he answered, ‘because we found the earliest Homosapien fossils in African.’

‘So, you say that humans are created in Africa, aren’t you?’

‘Yes, all the evidence, both fossils and artifacts found from early humans, indicate that humanity evolved in Africa. Then later, they migrated first to Asia and Europe, then spread all around the world. But in my book, I studied the changes that happened in human cultures and their perspective of their world.’ Richard responded.

‘Doctor, in your book, you also dedicated a chapter on the religion. Would you elaborate on this chapter of your book?’ Ashlee asked.

‘Yes, I did. Our religion and belief system have also dramatically changed during the time. Early humans, the hunter-gatherers, believed in spirits. For them, everything, either alive or inanimate, had spirits. And humans were also part of that spiritual world, without considering themselves being above others. Humans were equal to, for example, a tree, a wolf, or a lion in the wilderness.’

‘How do you know they believed in spirits and not in God as a creator?’ She asked vainly.

Richard couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He was disappointed with her ignorance. But he tamed his emotions and answered, ‘because we still have communities believe in spirits.’

‘Do we?’ She responded with a puzzled look on her face. ‘Where are they?’

‘We still have tribes who live as hunter-gatherers in the Amazon forest, Papua New Guinea, Africa, and Australia. Unfortunately, since they have contacted us, modern humans, their way of life, and cultures have significantly altered. Modernity has been pushing their customs and religious beliefs toward extinction.’ Richard passionately responded.

‘I believe our viewers will enjoy reading your book, doctor. I like to know why, in your book title, you compared us to chimpanzees. Do you believe in the myth that we evolved from chimpanzees?’ She asked.

Richard was stunned by her question. If the spectators were concentrating on his face, they could easily see signs of frustration and irritation. ‘No. As I mentioned earlier, this book of mine is not about human evolution. I studied the human cultural changes during the time, and my conclusion is that even though we gained knowledge and technology, we constantly impacted our environment in a way that is not the same as our ancestors experienced.’

She interrupted him and said, ‘Doctor, you still didn’t answer my question. We all like to know what made you choose ‘Not Brainier Than a Chimp’ as your book’s title?’

Her comment frustrated him. He hated the ignorance and the political correctness governed in his country. He liked to shout and protest, to stand up and leave the room. But he was in the TV studio, and the cameras were rolling. He didn’t want to lose his control on the national TV, with a few hundreds of thousands or more viewers. It could be a career killer move. So he calmed himself and answered, ‘I believe with our knowledge and technology, we altered the world in a way that differs from what it was at the dawn of humanity. And by these changes, we harmed both the environment and ourselves irreversibly, but chimpanzees with their unsophisticated lifestyle didn’t. So by choosing this title, I figuratively compared our wisdom with chimpanzees’ wisdom, as if we are not more intelligent than chimpanzees.’

‘Thank you, doctor. Unfortunately, we are almost at the end of our program. Just the last question. What is your next project? Are you working on another book right now?’

‘No. Writing a book is very time-consuming and needs a lot of research and dedication. It is a stressful commitment. At the moment, I am recovering from the stress caused by writing my last book.’ Richard replied with a smile on his face. But the smile was, in fact, for knowing that ridiculous interview was going to end soon. Richard regretted accepting the invitation. ‘I should watch a few of their programs before agreeing to come on this talk show. This is not a science program—this is a sham.’ He told himself.

‘I appreciate your time, doctor. We learned a lot from you.’ Ashlee stated.

‘My pleasure.’ Richard responded, followed by a soft head bow.

The first camera’s feed, a close-up shut having only Ashlee Johnson in the picture, came on the screen.

‘We had Dr. Richard Prince as our guest today. For those who missed this episode of a chat with experts, they can watch this program on our internet site, which will be available for the next seven days. We will back next week with a new program and a new guest. Our next week’s guest is Reverend Martin Cedar, and he will talk about the origin of Christianity. This is Ashlee Johnson. Wish you all a great day.’

The End

January 12, 2021 14:58

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